Old Raj gin

Cadenhead’s Old Raj gin is next on my list of gins to review and drink. This is long over-due but before I crack on with the review, I feel I need to explain where I have been for the last three months.

Well, the day-job is hectic and I am on a diet, so drinking less alcoholic drinks. Anyway, enough of that, you are only really here for the gin-talk. Needless to say, I apologise for the lapse in updates.

Old Raj Gin

Old Raj Gin

Old Raj gin had been on my target list for some time. I had never heard a bad thing said about it and I had been wanting to try a saffron-infused gin for some time. Old Raj comes in two strengths, 46% and 55% (red and blue-labelled respectively). after some reading around, the stronger gin seemed to come the most recommended and so I picked and purchased.

The Old Raj came in a nice little box (pictured alongside the bottle to the right) and the overall package was one of imperial elegance. The only thing that ruined it for me was the cheap metal screw cap; if this gin had a cork stopper (I am a sucker for the pop) it would have been a near-perfect presentation.

The gin, is of course, straw yellow, and apart from it looking a little like a bottle of wee, it seemed to not be at-odds with its label design.

With a botanical list that is hard to come by, we can assume juniper and saffron, but the rest is a bit of a mystery. Made in a copper-pot still, the saffron is apparently added by Cadenhead’s chairman.

A sniff of the bottle, and subsequently the neat gin in the glass, reveals a respectable payload of juniper and alcohol; no surprises really, given that it is 55%, but there was little else to it.

A sip of neat Old Raj reveals a slightly harsh, very alcoholly (yes, I know it isn’t a real word) experience. There were strong undertones of a harsh vegetative taste and a hint of spiciness.

With a little nip of water, a certain level of sweet spiciness came to the fore, but the vegetative harshness was still there.

Mixing with tonic water (Fever-Tree tonic, as usual) drove off little aroma, although the were hints of spice and greenery.

As a drink, the Old Raj made a slightly disappointing gin and tonic. While the initial attack developed into a somewhat sweet and spicy warmth followed by hints of fragrant angelica, it quickly evolves into lingering bitter vegetative after-taste, which ruins the whole experience.

Maybe I am used to saffron in sweet form (cakes and the like), but this really didn’t do it for me. Maybe there is an element of Phantom Menace syndrome; I have heard nothing but rave reviews and glowing commendation about Old Raj gin and I was expecting something truly spectacular. Maybe my expectations were just too high.

All-in-all, the Old Raj experience was a bit of a let-down.


During a weekend martini marathon I discovered that Old Raj makes an excellent martini. It is a very warm, spicy, almost comforting drink – which is not what one normally expects from a martini.


3 thoughts on “Old Raj gin

  • May 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

    We all have our and tongues (and thus opinions) … I think that is the enjoyment and drama of “flavor”.

    That said, Old Raj has permanent podium placement in my world. I think the very high alcohol strength can take a little getting used to, but similar to a strong Scotch, once the tongue calibrates (after a few sips) the flavor opens.

    I personally test drive all Gins in Martini format, so the ice/water helps to open it a bit and cool down the sting. That said, I love the “round” saffron flavor effect and the warm hug it puts on my brain at the end of a long week. Glory.

    By contrast, Red Label Old Raj seems like a waste of market share in my opinion.

    • May 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      I might have to try it in a martini as you quite often add a bitter taste to them (olive for example) and the Old Raj’s inherent bitterness may work well.

  • June 23, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I also tried both the 46% and the 55% in G&T. First the 46% which became one of my favored Gin. Later, after reading several recommendations in different forums, also the 55%.

    Honestly if I would have bought the 55% fist I wouldn’t have bothered to by another bottle. Quite disappointing.
    But the 46% is absolutely great as G&T. Love it. It has so much flavor. Give it a try if you have the chance….


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